Happy Birthday Bill Monroe

Ok, so Bill’s birthday isn’t until tomorrow, but that didn’t stop NPR from running the story last night. See this link here for audio and a transcript. The part about Thile getting a quarter is pretty hilarious. But Better yet, I wish they would haven told the story about how he told Sam Bush’s mak-up artist at the Opry to put the scissors to good use, now that is BILL!

Bill Monroe, known as the “Father of Bluegrass Music,” was born 100 years ago this week in rural Kentucky. He influenced early country music and rock ‘n’ roll, as well as the hard-driving, high-lonesome genre he created — bluegrass.

William Smith Monroe was a man of few words, but he opened up to fellow bluegrass musician Alice Gerrard, who recorded him in 1969.

“I was brought up the best way that I could be brought up with what we had to do with,” Monroe said. “I could have had a better education, and I could have had better clothes to wear to school. I could have had a better chance, you know. But if I’d had the best education in the world, I might have not played music.”

It’s a short piece that only scratches the surface of a complex and interesting person who lived a long and full life. I really wish they would have interviewed Mike Compton. The sense I got from him in the few times I’ve met him, was that when Bluegrass was in it’s dark days, Mike was there on Bill’s farm painting the barn and hanging out, being there. There were a select group of people who were there and not in some academic biographer type of mode, but there with him, helping him, being someboy when nobody cared. These folks probably would have a more interesting perspective than, yeah he gave me a quarter one time. Hell, at Bean blossom they used to have line that would form where anyone in the audience could go up on stage to take break with him…

On a related note David Grisman is honoring Old Bill’s birthday with a cool tribute album called Dawg Plays Big Mon. You can download the directly from Acoustic Oasis and preview two tunes here as well. Honestly from looking at the liner notes (available for download here) it looks like a must have. Some of the stuff is previously released but as a collection, it looks pretty top notch with a few of the tunes previously unreleased. There are a few really interesting line ups ont the disc that some, even hardcore bluegrassers, might not be aware of. Like for instance, the track from Jethro and Tiny’s Back to Back with Eldon Shamblin on rhythm guitar, it ain’t Bluegrass but it’s darn good.

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